NEW YORK — A rare facsimile of the Declaration of Independence on paper, engraved by William James Stone in 1823, sold for $132,000 at Swann Galleries’ June 5 auction of Printed & Manuscript Americana. Two hundred official copies of the Stone facsimile were issued on vellum, and a small number of additional copies were printed on paper. This was the third example on paper to come to auction. All prices reflect 20 percent buyer’s premium.
Another historic publication featured in the sale, the Aitken Bible, Philadelphia, 1782 and 1781, realized $66,000. This was the first printing of the complete Bible in English in America, and the only Bible ever to be authorized by Congress; fewer than 100 copies are estimated to have survived.
A long-standing record for the signature of Ethan Allen was shattered when the four-page manuscript Articles of agreement for the Salisbury [Connecticut] Furnace, signed by the four founding partners in January 1762, sold for $57,600 to the Salisbury Association. Allen went on to settle in Vermont and is known as the leader of the paramilitary “Green Mountain Boys.” Under later ownership, Salisbury Furnace became one of the most important American iron foundries, producing cannons for the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.
The two highest auction prices for English-language primers printed in the United States were achieved: $4,320 for a 1785 Ross primer, The New American Spelling Book; or A Complete Primer: For the Instruction of Children and New Beginners designed for “the Instruction of the Freeborn Youth of America,” and $3,840 for a 1790 Mycall New England primer.
One of the earliest photographically illustrated books published in the United States, McClees’ Gallery of Photographic Portraits of the Senators, Representatives & Delegates of the Thirty-Fifth Congress, Washington, 1859, brought a record $15,600. Among the 293 images were Jefferson Davis, Stephen Douglas, Andrew Johnson, Alexander Stephens and others who came to prominence during the Civil War.
Also from the Civil War was a Confederate officer’s account book that was later confiscated and used as a Union soldier’s diary, Virginia, 1860-64, $9,600 by Virginia Tech. Other notable manuscript material included whaling logs, archives of correspondence relating to George Armstrong Custer from the Elizabeth Atwood Lawrence collection, and an archive of William H. Dimond papers, 1866-98, including autograph letters signed from David Kalakua, the last King of Hawaii.
Items related to Mormonism proved especially desirable, notably Millroy & Hayes’s panoramic chromolithograph illustrating the Route of the Mormon Pioneers from Nauvoo to Great Salt Lake, Salt Lake City, 1899, still attached to the original folding case as issued, which sold for $19,200.
The sale concluded with a section of Latin Americana featuring Album Pintoresco de la Isla de Cuba, Berlin, 1855(?), complete with 28 chromolithograph plates and two folding maps, which fetched $5,635.
For complete results, an illustrated catalog with prices realized is available for $35 from Swann Galleries, Inc., 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, or online at www.swanngalleries.com.
To propose consignments to upcoming Americana auctions, please contact Rick Stattler by telephone at (212) 254-4710, extension 27, or email email@example.com.